Peoples' Earth Summit
Why Africa SHOULD Reject GE
Contaminated Food Aid
Embargoed: 12.00hrs 30/08/2002
WSSD, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Three international reports have been released promoting Genetically
Engineered (GE) food in the lead up to WSSD. Each report is funded by parties
with a vested interest for the success of GE food.
African nations have united against this biased research:
1. World Food Programme Report saying GE Food Aid should be accepted.
2. WTO - WHO Report saying GE is not harmful.
3. UN Economic Commission for Africa is pro GE farming and medicine.
- Uganda and Tanzania have both offered Zambia GE free food. They argue that
there is enough food in Africa to help Zambia. However, ineffective
infrastructure hampers distribution of this food to drought-stricken areas.
- The US is disposing of its rejected food on Africa. Africa will not allow
itself to become a dumping ground. This is another form of colonisation: first
through slavery, then economic colonisation and now the control of food and
medicine through GE, creating total dependency through patented and terminated
seed and medicines.
- Food crops given as aid are often planted. This leads to contamination as
Mexico has experienced. There must be solidarity across Africa for strict
controls and decisions.
Solutions to Africa's regular droughts are not food aid from the North nor
o Enhancing traditional systems of food production where farmers
control their own diverse livelihood systems.
o Improving infrastructure so food can be transported from areas of surplus
to areas of need within Africa as a priority
Dr Lewanika, a scientific advisor to the Zambian government explains why
Zambia rejects GE Food Aid and why other African countries should do so too:
- Zambia has had public debates on the issue. The majority of small scale
farmers said they would rather starve than use GE food. Hunger is a real issue
in Zambia, however, there is still time to prepare and to provide GE free food.
- Aid was not offered - money ($51 million) was given as a loan to the
private sector to import maize from the USA. When this maize was imported
Zambia was not informed that it was GE contaminated. It is important to get
prior consent from a country rather than imposing GE contaminated food grain on
- Currently, there is no regulatory system in place in Zambia to evaluate,
accept or reject Genetically Modified Organisms. The debate about safety, human
health and the environment still rages on. Until the issue is clear, Zambia
chooses to take precautionary steps.
-- ends --
Notes to Editors: For more information contact Sangeeta Haindl on 0834 468
8523/Marise du Preez on 0825781833.
- Dr Lewanika, Scientific adviser to the Zambian government.
- Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, Spokesperson for the African Biosafety
- Fred Kalibiwane, Organizer of the Farmers Convergence.
- Million Belay, Steering Committee of the African Civil Society Group.
BY SMALLHOLDER FARMERS AND FISH HARVESTERS
Farmers' Convergence, Peoples' Global Forum, Johannesburg, August
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We, the small-scale farmers meeting as a
Small-Scale Farmers Convergence at the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) from 22 August to 1 September 2002:
Affirm: that farming and fishing is our life. It is
Believe: that small holder [family] farming has
provided food, employment, healing, spiritual inspirations and has been a
central basis for social education and skills development over generations.
Know: that the earth was created with all that is
needed for people, animals and all its sustenance and continuity.
Recognize: that the smallholder farmers are a
majority, constituting 70 percent of the total world's population but have
largely been unheard and un-noticed.
We therefore come here to speak as a united voice and
alongside other civil society actors to: governments, the United Nations and
the rest of the world so that our issues and recommendations will be an
integral part of the deliberations and outcomes of WSSD.
Under the Small Farmer Convergence, 300 small-scale
farmers from Africa, Latin America, Canada, Europe and Asia are here to:
- Celebrate farming and fishing as a culture - our way of life;
- Share our knowledge, experiences and strategies on enhancing biodiversity,
seed multiplication, storage and exchange among ourselves;
- Communicate to you so that we can be part of the answer to sustainable
- Build a solidarity that will shape our common destiny in partnership with
the earth and her people.
We, therefore, state:
- That land, water, plant and animal genetic resources and minerals have been
communally owned throughout generations and, therefore, should never be
transferred to private ownership for selfish and profit driven gains. We have a
stewardship responsibility handed over from past generations to tend the earth
and leave it for future generations;
- That the rich knowledge, best practices and technologies developed by us
farmers in providing farming, healing, worship and marketing of our farm
produce should never be alienated from us because they form the core of the our
existence and livelihood. Research should focus and build on this knowledge and
practice and must respond to farmers needs;
- That avoidable conflicts and wars have dodged the small-scale farmers and
poor communities in Africa for far too long. Those in authority have ignored
the soft voices of women and children crying and others dying. The Western
countries have gladly traded arms and propaganda to fuel these conflicts. We
demand a stop to the merciless killing of innocent people. Farmers cannot
produce food under these conditions;
- Small-scale farmers have evolved systems of seed exchange and
multiplication for future seasons and generations. This is key to food
sovereignty at family and national levels.
We say NO to genetically modified foods.
We do not need genetically modified seeds. Our indigenous seeds are superior
for our taste and style of farming. We small-scale farmers farm for people and
not for industry!;
- That our first priority is to feed our communities before growing for the
external market. We, therefore, call for internal market access in preference
to external competitors. Capacity building, extension services and improvement
of infrastructure in terms of roads, communication and markets must enhance
Full access to the international market must be
accompanied with consideration on equity, justice and the production
- That deliberate and urgent steps must be taken to develop and promote
alternative renewable energy options, sustainable land-use systems and water
management as a commitment to achieving sustainable development for all;
- That poor communities, consisting mainly of labourers, landless people and
small scale farmers and their families, have suffered most from HIV/AIDS. We
are also concerned that common childhood diseases and other preventable
diseases, such as malaria and TB, have continued to decimate our populations at
an alarming rate. Health for all must be made a reality;
- Our communal resources (land, forests, wildlife, minerals, water etc.) have
been plundered by a few powerful people and private companies to the detriment
of all. Further the pollution and degradation of the earth has been blamed on
the poor communities, paying a blind eye to the big industries that are
responsible for industrial waste and gas emissions.
Everybody must be responsible for ensuring a
safe, clean and sustainable world.
- That foreign debt has continued to cripple poor countries' economies with
serious consequences on food security, health and education impacting most
heavily on women and children. We therefore call for further debt cancellation
and a re-dedication of these funds to services provision for poverty
As small-scale farmers we have some
answers - we will show the way.
Statement in support of the Zambian
and Zimbabwean Governments' position to reject food aid contaminated by genetic
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We, African Civil Society groups,
participants to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, composed of more
than 45 African countries, join hands with the Zambian and Zimbabwean
governments and their people in rejecting GE contaminated food for our starving
brothers and sisters:
- We refuse to be used as the dumping ground for contaminated food, rejected
by the Northern countries; and we are enraged by the emotional blackmail of
vulnerable people in need, being used in this way.
- The starvation period is anticipated to begin early in 2003, so that there
is enough time to source uncontaminated food.
- There is enough food in the rest of Africa (already offered by Tanzania and
Uganda) to provide food for the drought areas.
- Our responses is to strengthen solidarity and self reliance with in Africa,
in the face of this next wave of colonization, through GE technologies, which
aim to control our agricultural systems, through the manipulation of seed by
- We will stand together in preventing our continent from being contaminated
by genetically engineered crops, as a responsibility to our future generation.
Million Belay - Steering Committee of the African Civil
Tel: +27 83 296 2130